Fingolimod (FTY720): discovery and development of an oral drug to treat multiple sclerosis

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2010 Nov;9(11):883-97. doi: 10.1038/nrd3248. Epub 2010 Oct 29.


The discovery of fingolimod (FTY720/Gilenya; Novartis), an orally active immunomodulatory drug, has opened up new approaches to the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the most common inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system. Elucidation of the effects of fingolimod--mediated by the modulation of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptors--has indicated that its therapeutic activity could be due to regulation of the migration of selected lymphocyte subsets into the central nervous system and direct effects on neural cells, particularly astrocytes. An improved understanding of the biology of S1P receptors has also been gained. This article describes the discovery and development of fingolimod, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in September 2010 as a first-line treatment for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, thereby becoming the first oral disease-modifying therapy to be approved for multiple sclerosis in the United States.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery / trends*
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / administration & dosage
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology
  • Propylene Glycols / administration & dosage*
  • Research / trends*
  • Sphingosine / administration & dosage
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Sphingosine